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Fish Going Deep?

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Since I'm still very new to Bass fishing I read a lot about the fish going deep for the winter.  I thought Bass stay about 3-20 ft of water.  So if they go deep are you saying they stay at 20ft, or do they go all the way to the bottom of the lake?  The two lakes I go to (Old Hickory Lake and Percy Priest Lake, both Nashville, TN area).  Old Hickory isn't as deep (mainly 10-40 mostly) but Percy Priest can get as deep as 90 near the dam.  Are the Bass going all the way down to the 80+ feet down?  I guess I'm just trying to find out more about fish going deep.  

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Fish do hibernate to the depths for the winter. But they do not migrate to water greater than 50 feet most of the time. The reason is lack of oxygen. Bass usually find a good depth that contains ample oxygen while at the same time has a slightly warmer temperature than the surface water.

In the late fall, bodies of water do what we call the "Fall Turnover" which in that case the cool water from the depths during the summer flip up to the surface and the semi-warmer water is in the depths. This is why bass are found deeper in the water column during the winter.

Generally you will find bass in the 20-40 foot range but that's all. If they go deeper (depending on the lake), chances are they will not have ample oxygen to survive. To catch these bass in deep water the best techniques are slow, small bait presentations. Search deep water humps, structure/cover and holes. If you find bass try different techniques to catch them.

Remember, that in the late fall/winter the bass' metabolism slows down with the colder temperatures and therefore they aren't as active (won't chase fast moving baits). So slow presentations will work best (Carolina rig, drop shot rig, texas rig, florida rig, jigs, etc.)

Good luck!  8-)

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There is a thread on this topic; see "Bait Fish" on this page.

The TVA lakes are "High-land" class power generation reservoirs with three bass species; northen strain largemouth, smallmouth and northen spotted bass. LMB tend to stay shallower than the smallmouth or spots, however all the adult size bass tend to stay deeper than 3 to 5 feet unless spawning, actively feeding.

We have 6 basic seasonal periods; fall, winter , pre spawn, spawn, post spawn and summer. Water temperatures are the governing factors, the basic are; fall = 70 to 60, winter = 58 to 40, pre-spawn = 55 to 60, spawn = 62 bto 65, post spawn = 67 to 70, summer = 70 to 80. The water temperatures are at the depth the bass holding, not the surface and transitions occur where you see missing temperatures and may vary for diffirent species. So water temperature is very important to bass, along with DO (dissolved oxygen), shelter and food. The primary food source in your lakes are thread fin shad, silver sides, chubs, bream, crappie, shiners, crayfish, frogs, salamanders and worms.

Bass do not hibernate and can not survive in water temperature lower than 40 degrees. The prefered temperature is between 65 to 75 degrees if availble and the DO levels are good and food is availble. During the cold water period the bass will seek the warmest avialble water and that is usually deep water during the winter period. In deep clear water high land reserviors bass can and will go down to 80 feet or more if the DO levels are good. Bass have swim bladders so they can only change about 30 feet in upward depth before the bladder expands and pushes the stomach out the mouth and must return back down into deeper water.

You need to read up on the basic bass habits to learn where they locate during the variuos seasonal periods. The general rule is "find the bait and the bass will be close by" applies the year around.

WRB

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There is a thread on this topic; see "Bait Fish" on this page.

The TVA lakes are "High-land" class power generation reservoirs with three bass species; northen strain largemouth, smallmouth and northen spotted bass. LMB tend to stay shallower than the smallmouth or spots, however all the adult size bass tend to stay deeper than 3 to 5 feet unless spawning, actively feeding.

We have 6 basic seasonal periods; fall, winter , pre spawn, spawn, post spawn and summer. Water temperatures are the governing factors, the basic are; fall = 70 to 60, winter = 58 to 40, pre-spawn = 55 to 60, spawn = 62 bto 65, post spawn = 67 to 70, summer = 70 to 80. The water temperatures are at the depth the bass holding, not the surface and transitions occur where you see missing temperatures and may vary for diffirent species. So water temperature is very important to bass, along with DO (dissolved oxygen), shelter and food. The primary food source in your lakes are thread fin shad, silver sides, chubs, bream, crappie, shiners, crayfish, frogs, salamanders and worms.

Bass do not hibernate and can not survive in water temperature lower than 40 degrees. The prefered temperature is between 65 to 75 degrees if availble and the DO levels are good and food is availble. During the cold water period the bass will seek the warmest avialble water and that is usually deep water during the winter period. In deep clear water high land reserviors bass can and will go down to 80 feet or more if the DO levels are good. Bass have swim bladders so they can only change about 30 feet in upward depth before the bladder expands and pushes the stomach out the mouth and must return back down into deeper water.

You need to read up on the basic bass habits to learn where they locate during the variuos seasonal periods. The general rule is "find the bait and the bass will be close by" applies the year around.

WRB

I noticed I made this mistake before. I meant to write that they migrate to deeper depth, not hibernate lol!  

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I agree with most of what John J says; but not about bass survival: bass can and certainly do survive in water temps below 40 degrees. The water temps here in the N.E., under ice, can and does go down a lot lower than that. Maybe John is referring to bass down south(?) - not sure. But up here, come ice out, no dead bodies are floating around  ;) And the fishing is as good as in all previous years.

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Just find the warmest water with deep water close by and you'll find fish. I dont know those two lakes at all but if they have any warm water discharges/ power plants check those out. Guy from the federtion got a 3rd place finish in the Bassmaster Classic last year fishing infront of one with a tube. They always hold fish during the cold. Also any drain pipes that bring in fresh water or rivers flowing in will have oxygen and there might be fish there.

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I agree with most of what John J says; but not about bass survival: bass can and certainly do survive in water temps below 40 degrees. The water temps here in the N.E., under ice, can and does go down a lot lower than that. Maybe John is referring to bass down south(?) - not sure. But up here, come ice out, no dead bodies are floating around ;) And the fishing is as good as in all previous years.

I did say it varies depending on the body of water. Clear lakes have dissolved oxygen deep down below 50 feet, but for most lakes I've been to I mostly see bass hanging around the 20-40 feet range. And I've found out it's because of the dissolved oxygen levels in those certain lakes.

No doubt bass can live in water deeper than 50 feet, but lakes are different. Perhaps the lakes you fish Crestliner are clear lakes. Those lakes have dissolved oxygen down to 50+ feet of water, but for muddy water or stained water dissolved oxygen decreases with depth.

I agree though, if there's any lakes with discharge water, fish the discharge side where the water is warmer!

Good luck!  8-)

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For some reason I thought we discussed this issue.

The physics involved with water are interesting. Water becomes heavier as it gets colder until it reaches 39.4 degrees, then get lighter or less dense and floats upward until it freezes into ice at 32 degrees (fresh water). If water continued to get heavier as it cooled below 39,4 degrees the lakes would freeze bottom to top, instead of top downward. Bass being a cold blooded and sun fish family animal will seek out the warmest water availble during the cold water periods. Lakes tend to layer, the upper layer is called the epillimnion, the middle layer mesolimiom or thermocline and the lower layer hypolimnion. All fish need dissolved oxygen (DO) to breath and both weeds and wind produce DO in the upper layer where bass live during the warm water periods.

The lowest layer is cold (50 degrees or so) water that is viod or very low of DO.

The fall transition to winter cools the upper layer as nights get colder and days get shorter. The cold surface water drifts down through the upper layer compressing warmer water through the thermocline until both the upper and lower layers are equal. The fall turnover can occur when windy conditions mixes the layers and you smell a rotten egg odrer of sulphurus gases at the surface and there is no thermocline layer.

The bass will seek the warmest water availble, springs are about 50 degrees and deepr water stays above 40 degrees or all the bass would die. This is why bass go deeper in winter to survive.

WRB

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Largemouth bass can survive in temperatures that are just above freezing.  On the other side of that, LMB start to die at around 97-98 degrees.  They function the best between 55-85.  For every drop of 18 degrees the metabolism of a bass is reduced 1/3 of it's previous rate.  It takes them longer and longer to digest meals.  

I'm not a scientist, but this guy is, Keith A. Jones, PhD.  He's the author of Knowing Bass:  The Scientific Approach to Catching More Fish.  

Yes this is a plug for this book, because it's good.  Dr. Jones was the Director of Fish Research at Berkley Fish Research Center.  Yes, tank bass are definitely different than wild bass, but there's still a lot of good stuff in there.  There aren't any plugs for any Berkley products either.

As far as baits, tactics, and depths...I'm with the above posts.

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John J,

Your calling seems to be marine biology.

Check it out at various universities around the country.

Some schools have a "concentration" in marine biology within their biology college.

Good posts and excellent explanations.

A+.

Now go to recess and play in the yard!

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Lol, I think I'll spend my recess fishing lol!  ;D ;):D

I was considering taking marine biology as a major/minor but idk. It would certainly prove my fishing if I do so. I may take it as an elective, that way I can learn more about the water environment.

Thanks for that heads up Sam!

God bless  :)

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Great explanations in this thread indeed. I may have learn a thing or two. Just not so sure about this magical 40 degree survival thingy. Please understand that I'm no biologist by any stretch of the imagination. But I do know what I know. That being said, when I see open water in a 15' (max)deep pond that a themometer tells me is 36 degrees (open water), then I gotta think that maybe that's not too terribly bad for the bass afterall? I've always thought that, after the turnover, the water homogenizes top to bottom and wind action mixes the temperature to a fairly equal value. I'd be surprised if that is a mis-conception, but I could be wrong. In any case, if springs are a bass's only salvation, in these frozen temperatures, then I hope there's a lot of 'em!  :)

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The issue of bass survivabilty in cold water is somewhat complicated by the bass species. In general we think of largemouth bass as bass. Ther are several however, but lets just discuss the northern strain largemouth bass. The survival issue that kills bass fast is the improper level of dissolved oxygen (DO). Water can hold a maxium amount of DO verses temperture. Bass need a saturation level somewhere between 7 to 9 mg/I and can tolerate a wider range depending on the activity level; 5 to 12 mg/I is gennerally considered the limits for a short time period. Lack of DO is in warm water is the primary reason bass die in live wells.

Water at 4C or 36 degrees is highly saturated with DO well above 13 mg/I and the levels decrease as the temperature increase to less than 3 mg/l at 85 degrees, without wind or vegetation adding DO. Yes a bass can survive 36 degrees and above 85 for vey short time periods, if the DO levels are OK. Some lakes can be frozen over a long time period, the ice prevents new DO from entering the water and the colder water under the ice draws the DO up from the warmer water ,plus the fish comsume it, then winter fish kill occurs from lack of DO. The ice factor limits the basses range and some bass are more tolerant to cold water; smallmouth bass and others are less tolerant; Florida strian LMB, for examples.

The bottom line; cold water is the reason they go deeper to survive, during the winter where lakes form ice and hot water is the reason they also go deeper in the summer periods.

WRB

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Thanks WRB - makes sense! Just spoke with two guys from MaAnglers.com and they confirm this on two counts: 1) Aquaview temp reading thru the ice show bass active and ALIVE in 30 - 36 degree water in January - and being able to be caught! And 2) a scuba diver has shown the same, so I'm convinced the statement of <40 deg. means the end of a bass's life is a mistake. I like the concept of DO much better than temperature. Just makes more sense.

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so I'm convinced the statement of <40 deg. means the end of a bass's life is a mistake.

Or it could just be that you are talking about different specie/strain of bass.  Florida strain largies will not survive in the same cold waters as the nortern strain will.

A lower water temperature limit of 40 degrees F appears to be the controlling factor for extending the pure Florida bass range in Oklahoma (Gilliland, OK Dept. of Conservation, pers. comm.) and Oklahoma no longer stocks Florida largemouth bass north of a 3400 heating degree days cline (Gilliland 1992).

http://www.agfc.com/pdfs/fisheries/mgmtplans/largemouth_bass_management_plan.pdf

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Back in the 70's several CA lakes were planted with Florida LMB due in part to the success that San Diego was having at lakes Otay, Miramar, San Vincente, Hodges, etc. Big Bear was one of the lakes the Florida's failed to survive due to cold water temperatures. Big Bear freezes over for a month or so. Considering Big Bear already had a good population of both smallmouth and northern LMB, the die off was a good indicator that Florida LMB have a lower thresold to cold water. The Florida's did extremely well in lake Isabella where the core water temperaures didn't drop below 45 degrees, doesn't freeze over, however has a tremdous amount of snow melt run off. Florida's definately have a lower stress tolerance to extremely cold water.

Gillihand is one of the most respected biologist in the country and has written papers on tournament bass survival that every bass fisherman should read.

WRB

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